Charles Harold Witcombe

Charles Harold Witcombe
b: 20 Aug 1904
d: 20 Jul 1975
Charles Witcombe
Charles Harry Witcombe was born in Hobart on 20th August 1904.
According to Aunty Mary he spent his early life in Sandy Bay area of Hobart. It was a common practice of his father to take the family down to the beach on weekends to collect mussels, periwinkles and cockles which they then took home and boiled up for their Sunday night supper, this may account for dad’s habit in my early years of going down to Blackrock and collecting shellfish for our supper. At some stage dad’s family moved to the Cascades area of Hobart near the brewery and in a house that abutted the old women’s prison. The house that Dad and his family lived in at cascades was still standing in 1959 when Dad went back and visited the area however it was destroyed in the 1967 bushfires which also badly damaged the remains of the women’s prison. Dad told many stories of his time in Hobart as a boy such as having to walk to school through the snow in short pants. I particularly remember one story he told of seeing a man run over by a horse and dray outside the brewery and how the man died in less than a minute. He also told of his time in the scouts and how he used to play the drums in a marching band. Dad did not mention this but according to Aunty Mary Dad went to work with the Hobart Mercury when he left school but did not like the job and left. After the death of Dad’s father the family moved to an address in Newtown.
In June 1924 Dad enlisted in the RAN for twelve years. According to his record of service obtained from the National Archives in Canberra he gave his religion as CofE and his address as 10 Fraser Street Newtown Hobart. He served at Cerberus in Victoria until August 1925, as a cook and on the HMAS Adelaide until July 1927 and was granted free discharge in August 1927. I have no idea why he was able to get an early discharge I can only assume that as his twenty year old brother Jack had died in October the previous year he may have been able to claim family hardship. According to Aunty Mary the family lived at Newtown for some time, Dad during his leave from the navy often turned up and cooked for them, as they were struggling he often turned out good meals from the cheapest of cuts, Aunty Mary says that it was wonderful how long he could make a sheep’s neck last. Dad used to say that during the depression years he carried his swag looking for work around Tasmania without much success, eventually he found himself in Victoria where he found work. At some point in time he enrolled in the “Working Men’s College” which later became Melbourne Tech and subsequently RMIT. At that institution he learnt welding which enabled him to work as a boiler maker. Granny said to me that Uncle Bob also went to school with Dad and for as time worked with him but he decided the work was too heavy and dirty. Dad in the 1930’s went to work in Newcastle and Wollongong as a boiler maker until he came down to Melbourne and started working for Johnsons Tyne Foundry in South Melbourne during 1941. He worked there for many years on and off, at some stage during the 1950’s they sent him back to school at South Melbourne Tech to get his “Mines Department Certificate” which enabled him to legally do welding work on pressure vessels.
During his early years in Melbourne he was at some point joined by his mother and two surviving sisters. Aunty Joy and Aunty Mary who stayed in Melbourne and Married Uncle Bob and Uncle Jack, the second of Harry Witcombe’s families settled and stayed permently in Melbourne while his first family stayed in Tasmania.
In the 1930’s Dad met Mum and as mentioned earlier they married in 1938, prior to this marriage Dad converted to the Catholic faith to enable this marriage to proceed more smoothly.
They had five children:
John Charles B May27th 1939
Brian Henry B 28th June 1943
Alan Patrick B 17th March 1943 ------ D 16th Dec 2004
Paul David B 27th August 1949
Michael Terrance B 10th February 1951

Dad left Johnsons and returned to them a couple of times, the first occasion was in early 1950 when he decided to go into partnership with a fellow worker from Johnsons, Alf Hodgson, doing house renovations. This lasted for six to nine months until they found that it was not working mainly due to the fact that people would not pay their bills, so he went back to Johnsons. In early 1956 after having some success raising chickens and selling them ready to cook around Albert Park he decided to go into the chicken raising business fulltime. Mum purchased the farm at Springvale to accommodate this, Dad left Johnsons once more and we all moved to Springvale in 1956. This proved to be a disaster, by 1957 Dad was back at Johnsons and within a year Mum was dead and I was in traction in the Alfred Hospital. By the time I got out of hospital in April 1959 we were living back at St Kilda, Springvale was on the market and Dad was courting Marjorie Bird, a widow who lived in Wellington Street St Kilda. I do not know how he met her but from a few things Dad said while I was in Hospital I have a few suspicions which I will not mention here. On the 14th of August 1959 Dad married Marjorie Bird at St John’s Anglican Church Toorak. The witnesses on their marriage certificate were Douglass Lacey, Marjorie’s brother and Byll Anderson Smith a long time friend of Marjorie’s.
Following that marriage we all lived at Park Street, Alan and Brian left in the mid 1960’s, I left in late 1967. Paul and Michael went to school in Middle park and Marjorie managed to get them into the printing trade when they left school. Dad continued to work at Johnsons and was made foreman in 1960 a position he held until they ceased trading in 1964. Dad then got a position as a storeman at a engineering works in Moorabbin somewhere, I do not know the name of this business. Dad’s health had been slowly going downhill since the mid 1950’s due mainly to his smoking he developed chronic bronchitis by 1960 and was continually having to have time off work. In 1966 he went down with double pneumonia and was admitted to intensive care at Prince Henry’s Hospital. It was thought for a time that he would die from this but he recovered enough to go home but that was the end of his working life. In 1973 a tumour was discovered in Dad’s right lung and the lung was removed at Prince Henry’s. He recovered quite well from this and enjoyed anther eighteen months of relatively comfortable living until in late 1974 another tumour was discovered in the remaining lung. Dad refused to have chemo therapy and by February/March 1975 he was spending most of his time in bed. He continued to go downhill at a steady rate until on Sunday July 20th, a month short of his seventy first birthday he passed away his home in St Kilda. His remains were donated to the “Melbourne University Medical School” and when they finished with him two years later his remains were interred in” Fawkner Memorial Park”.
  • 20 Aug 1904 - Birth -
  • 20 Jul 1975 - Death -
William James Witcombe
1830 - 28 Dec 1900
Harold Witcombe
23 Jul 1853 - 5 Jun 1921
Eleanor Margaret Goldie
9 Jan 1830 - 11 Mar 1895
Charles Harold Witcombe
20 Aug 1904 - 20 Jul 1975
Charles Kingston
1 Feb 1844 - 31 Oct 1922
Bertha Louise Kingston
4 Oct 1873 - 1966
Mary Jemina Payne
23 Oct 1852 - 14 Jan 1920
Family Group Sheet - Child
PARENT (M) Harold Witcombe
Birth23 Jul 18531 Albion Grove, Stoke, Newington, London
Death5 Jun 1921 General Hospital, Hobart
Marriage25 Apr 1904to Bertha Louise Kingston
Marriage7 Feb 1885to Isabella Horne at Launceston
FatherWilliam James Witcombe
MotherEleanor Margaret Goldie
PARENT (F) Bertha Louise Kingston
Birth4 Oct 1873Bream Creek, Tasmania
Marriage25 Apr 1904to Harold Witcombe
FatherCharles Kingston
MotherMary Jemina Payne
FJoyce Hilda Witcombe
Birth25 Dec 1915
Death18 Jan 1994Preston and Northcote Community Hospital, Preston, Victoria, Australia
MarriageNov 1935to Robert Frank Morton Bob Cleeland
MCharles Harold Witcombe
Birth20 Aug 1904
Death20 Jul 1975
MWilliam John Witcombe
Death9 Oct 1926
FMary Eleanor Witcombe
Birth14 Oct 1907
MRoy Edgar Witcombe
Death7 Nov 1924